A positive spin on negative reviews

It can be daunting to receive a negative review but trust us, it’s not the end of the world! Maybe your team is just having an off day, or a reviewer is proving particularly hard to please? One negative review is unlikely to completely ruin your chances in local search though, so don’t worry too much about the occasional two-star rating.

However, if a business receives frequent poor feedback or bad reviews are showing up among their most recent reviews, they could be risking potential business. Negative reviews can significantly impact consumer behaviour, making 92% less likely to use a company.

I’m sure you’ve heard that unhappy customers tell 9-10 people about their experience (this was a statistic based on a study of Coca-Cola customers in the 1970s). Now, with reviews being so trusted and accessible, local businesses must be aware that one poor experience could have a far wider effect than ever before. Most local business’s Google My Business listings are viewed thousands of times each month, meaning that a negative set of reviews could have a considerable impact.

79% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family. These days, word of mouth can come from outside a consumer’s social circle, with an online review spreading far outside a happy (or unhappy) customer’s network.

So, all that being said, can anything positive come out of a negative review? The answer is a resounding YES!

Receiving critical feedback from a customer regarding their experience with your business provides you with valuable insights. And if you can address that customer’s concerns, you may just have a life-long brand advocate onboard.

Smart Reviews can make managing negative reviews a breeze and can provide valuable insights along the way. While positive reviews will be automatically uploaded to your chosen public platform, such as Google or Facebook, negative reviews will be sent to your email address to be handled offline. This allows you to connect with your customer, dig deeper into their experience and provide them with a resolution. The Smart Reviews tool also tracks commonly used terms in your reviews. This can help you identify any trends you may need to address, such as dirty, slow, inconvenient, poor service, or poor quality.

Here are a few tips to help you respond to negative reviews:


Responding to negative reviews can be difficult. While it’s natural to get upset about negative reviews, it’s important not to lose your cool. Step away from the keyboard if you need to so that your emotions don’t spill out in the response. It may also be wise to have a trusted colleague or friend read over your reply before sending it.

Make it snappy!

It is essential to respond to negative reviews asap before they drive your customers away. A prompt and personalised response will immediately improve the customer’s perception of your business.

Make it personal

Your customers want to be heard and addressed personally. So don’t forget to include their name and avoid the generic “Dear customer.”

According to customer reviews data, 76% of all reviews are either on Google or Facebook. This means you can usually get the reviewer’s name and use it to personalise your response further.

Say thank you

Show customers that you appreciate and value their feedback. Always remember to say thank you in responses to reviews (even the curly ones).

You can say sorry

Apologising shows that you care about your customers and that you’re not too proud to own up to your mistakes. This is an excellent opportunity to establish and strengthen trust between your company or brand and the customer. Just like the rest of the response, keep your apologies short and sweet.

Own it

Don’t make excuses. Even if what happened was an uncommon instance, an isolated case, an unfortunate incident, an off day — acknowledge the customer’s experience.

Make things right

When dealing with negative feedback, try to avoid cookie-cutter responses that do not resolve or address any specific issues raised in the review. Include details about the customer’s experience in your response (when relevant) and communicate any changes or improvements you have made or will make due to their feedback.

Take the issue offline

It’s always best for you to talk directly to your customer about their problem and take the issue offline. This saves any further embarrassment and attention on the issue and prevents interference from outside sources. For this reason, you should provide direct contact information for customers in your review response.

Ask for a second chance

Don’t turn your back on negative reviewers. Instead, invite them to come back and, if they do, welcome them with open arms. Not only does this create an opportunity for you to change the conversation, but it also establishes confidence in your ability to deliver an experience worth raving (instead of complaining) about.

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